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New Washington County Free Library likely to open in June, and under budget

The latest cost estimate is $17.2 million, including approximately $1.2 million in approved change orders

November 28, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • A rendering of the new Washington County Free Library in downtown Hagerstown.
Rendering courtesy of BFM and STV

Construction of the new Washington County Free Library in downtown Hagerstown is scheduled to be finished around the first week of May, with the library probably opening in June, said Joseph Kroboth III, the county’s public works director.

Those dates could change depending on construction progress, he said. The project has already experienced some delays.

The latest cost estimate is $17.2 million, including approximately $1.2 million in approved change orders that account for slightly more than half of the project’s contingency budget, Kroboth said Wednesday.

The budget for the project was about $23.6 million, according to a summary Kroboth shared with the commissioners in August of this year.

Kroboth said the project is on target to come in $1.5 million to $3.5 million under budget, depending on future change orders. One of the reasons for the potential surplus is construction bids were significantly lower than expected, he said.

Demolition work on the old library began in February 2011. The basic structure of the old library remains and is being renovated and expanded around on three sides.

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The project originally was expected to be complete in late September 2012, and later was pushed back to March 2013.

The two major reasons for the delays are the poor soil on the site, which added about 110 days to the project, and wet weather that added more than 40 days, Kroboth said.

The soil was soft and not suitable to support buildings or parking lots, Kroboth said.

Kroboth said the county hired Triad Engineering, of Hagerstown, to check the soil’s condition by taking soil borings around the library’s original foundation.

The soil testing was not conducted for the entire site, including the parking areas, he said.

“We didn’t test the whole area, and all of the bad soils took us by surprise,” Kroboth said.

“We contracted with them to perform what in their professional opinion was the appropriate level of soils analysis and what was necessary to design the project,” Kroboth said.

Triad’s contact person for the library project did not return messages left Wednesday afternoon through voicemail and a woman who answered the phone.

The cost of dealing with the poor soil includes a $460,000 change order that the Washington County Commissioners approved in August. That accounted for removing and hauling away much of the soft soil, and bringing in a mixture of shale, soil, and geotextile gridding, Kroboth said.

On Tuesday, the commissioners voted to pay about $152,000 more to the contractor for the additional time needed to complete the project because of delays.

The commissioners also agreed Tuesday to accept a credit of about $39,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning work that will not be done.

On Wednesday, crews were working on the HVAC system, installing drywall, and excavating soil for a driveway off East Baltimore Street to the library’s new parking area.

Drivers will be able to get into and out of the parking areas via East Baltimore and East Antietam streets, Kroboth said. Drivers also will be able to enter the lots from South Potomac Street.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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